November 27th, 2007

Forget Oprah v. Bill in Iowa: Al Gore’s Coming to the White House, And President Bush is Laying Out the Cookies and Milk

by Philip Baruth

Several large battles of the titans in the offing. First, Oprah has announced plans to barnstorm in Iowa and New Hampshire for Obama, this to neutralize the inevitable Bill/Hill high-voltage tour Hillary will announce in a few weeks. Oh, to be a midge in the corn when that goes down.


But that’s nothing compared to this match-up: Al Gore will attend a White House ceremony honoring this year’s Nobel Prize winners. And there, unless he’s really lucky, he’ll wind up shaking the sweaty palm of the guy who filched the Presidency from him seven long years ago.

Already pundits are figuring odds for the meeting: 3/1 says Gore head-butts Bush just as they join hands.

No, not really. Here is the early forecast, via Donna Brazile and ABC News:

“This is going to be a very uncomfortable moment for both of them,” says Gore’s former campaign manager Donna Brazile. “I think after the president looks at Al Gore and says ‘congratulations,’ Al Gore will probably depart the room.”

Don’t you believe it. Bush’s people are not that stupid, or at least not recently. It’s no accident they’re currently filling a conference table in Maryland with all of the folks they’ve been demonizing and baiting for the last 7 years.

Bush has kicked off a “Lessons Learned” year, taking in his response to the Surge, to the California fires (pointedly contrasted to his handling of Katrina), and if you think he’ll pass up a chance to be seen doing the human thing by Al Gore, you’re less cynical than you might otherwise be, by a good piece.

Look for the story out of the Gore meeting to be this: George W. Bush shakes Gore’s hand, offers nice remarks publicly, and asks Gore to stay a moment and chat.

Not an hour. A moment. Sixty seconds. But enough to let a thousand memes bloom.

This is a President who plans to pardon 60 or 70 hard-core white-collar criminals before he leaves office, and he has only mere months left to raise his poll numbers enough to withstand the public’s outrage.

So head’s up, Al.

(And if they offer Kool-Aid, say you’re diabetic.)

Late Update, Tuesday, November 27, 9:05 am:

Just as VDB suspected: After the somewhat awkward photo op, Bush pulled Gore aside for “a private tête-à-tête with the president, which lasted more than 30 minutes, provoking intense speculation about just what the two talked about.”

And during the inevitable post-mortem of the private meeting, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino acted as if this sort of thing goes on pretty much every day at the White House.

“This president does not harbor any resentments,” Ms. Perino said. “He never has.”

VDB: 1
Brazile: 0